Arkansas Highway 16 - Sweet 16 and Never Been Ridden... Much
This is perhaps the best little known highway in the Ozarks. Except for short sections which run concurrent with Highways 23, 21 & 7, this road is familiar mostly only to local riders. This is really too bad because the 110 miles of Arkansas 16 between Fayetteville and Clinton is a fun, twisty and scenic ride.
The reason Highway 16 overlooked is that it really doesn't take you any place. It basically runs along the backbone of the Ozarks. It follows a route full of curves and wonderful scenery. If you start out on the eastern end, in Fayetteville, have breakfast at the Rolling Pin Cafe (at the intersection of Highways 16 and 265). Head west, hang on and enjoy the ride. Most of the time traffic will be light and you'll have a great time discovering this fantastic road. Many visiting riders will not know to make this wonderful ride. That's their loss.
Arkansas 7 - Scenic 7
Ark. Highway 7 runs from north of Harrison to near the Louisiana state line at El Dorado, Arkansas. The portion from Harrison, across the Arkansas River at Russellville, to south of Hot Springs (in the Ouachita Mountains) is surely one of the most scenic highways in the United States. The curves are less severe than some of the other Ozark highways, but the vistas and scenery are pure eye candy.
From Harrison, 7 drops down a winding path to Jasper, on the Little Buffalo River. Jasper is a great place to stop for breakfast or lunch and to spend a little time. It's a real jewel and you'll enjoy walking around taking in a genuine Ozarks hill town with a contemporary 60Õs alternative feel.
Don't drink too much coffee in Jasper because just six miles south on Ark. 7 is another place you'll want to stop - the 1920s Cliff House Restaurant and Gift Shop. It literally sets out over a cliff with a breathtaking view of the mountains, one of the best in the Ozarks. Many times in the Ozarks, the foliage and trees are so dense that even on the tops of the mountains the view is sometimes obscured. Not so at Cliff House.
After winding over the mountains and down to the river valley at Russellville, Ark. 7 levels out and continues on. Since the Ozarks are situated on both sides of the Arkansas River, highway 7 begins another winding stretch to where the Ouachita Mountains begin. All-in-all, Ark. Scenic 7 is one of the top Don't-Miss highways in the Ozarks, especially if scenic beauty is your bag.
Ark. 14 is a wonderful highway, running through rural farm and wood lands, passing through primarily small-town Ozarks. The entire length of highway 14 is a nice ride. If you are coming from Branson, Missouri, it would be a good choice for heading southeast into the region. The 67 mile stretch from U.S. 62 south to the community of Harriet offers a great combination of winding, twisty roads through very nice scenery. It crosses the Buffalo River south of Yellville, a nice place to take a break. This county seat town is the home of the famous/infamous Turkey Trot.
Ark. 14 is basically a pleasurable ride through a varying Ozark country side.
Arkansas 125/Missouri 125
Intersecting Ark. 14 is Ark. 125. Like 14, highway 125 runs through scenic areas and adjoins Mo. 125. But what makes this a great trip that you cross Bull Shoals Lake on the highway 125 Peel Ferry. Not only is the road very enjoyable, but the wait for and trip on the ferry is a wonderful throwback to a time when there were five ferries crossing the waters of Bull Shoals Lake. Plus, it's a relaxing way to spend 30 minutes or so with a free boat ride on a beautiful body of Ozark water.
This is one of the finest ride in the Ozarks, combining the best elements of the Tail of the Dragon and the Cherahola Skyway, in Tenn. and NC.
Just north of Clarksville on Ark. 21, take 292 east and ride four miles to the junction of 292/123. From there, stay on 123 north and let the fun begin. The road takes you through the heart of the Ozark National Forest, travels up along ridges, mountain tops and valleys, crossing several white water rivers, with the Big Piney offering great canoeing opportunities.
The ride offers spectacular scenery and challenging riding. You'll likely encounter light auto traffic as most tourists in cars will take Ark. 21 or 7 to travel north and south.
After 28 miles of riding, Ark. 123 intersects Ark. 7 and travels concurrently for three miles before veering off to Mt. Judea (locally pronounced Mt. Judy). This 15-mile stretch of highway is just as exciting and scenic as the section southwest of Ark. 7. But five miles from Mt. Judea, there's a warning sign about the curves and switchbacks ahead. Believe it! The highway hangs on the edge of the ridge, winding along the mountain side. As it drops into the valley at Mt. Judea, the road follows a very steep course, with numerous switchbacks cutting back and forth almost 180 degrees. This section of 123 is so much fun, you may want to back track and run the course over again.
From Mt. Judea, stay on 123/74 about four miles till Ark. 74 Splits and runs 10 miles back to Ark. 7 at Jasper, a genuine Ozark gem.
This is a beautiful, fun and very challenging ride of 68 miles. You must take care on some sections of the road. And at dusk, be sure to be on the lookout for deer and other animals crossing the highway.
Ark. 43/74; Boxley to Ponca to Jasper
The beauty of the scenery and the winding of the roads in this stretch are entirely result of the Buffalo National River. It has carved the rugged course that the roads follow as they run along side the river and up and over the mountain on the way to the Ozark gem of a town, Jasper. And the description is not just a reflection of the town's name. From Boxley to Ponca, the road runs through part of the Buffalo River valley and magnificent is not descriptive enough. From Ponca, the mile and a half climb of Ark. 74 out of the valley is as exciting as any in the U.S. And the rest of the ride to Jasper is second to none in the scenery category.
A Short Ride Out of Eureka Springs
A favorite ride with locals is a circle from Eureka Spring and back again. Take Ark. 23 three miles north to Arkansas 187, which goes to the community of Beaver. Beaver town is where the White River below Beaver Lake turns into the upper end of Table Rock Lake. Spanning the river at Beaver is a unique, beautiful landmark – a one-lane suspension bridge, known as the Little Golden Gate. For those who like to camp, Beaver operates a comfortable campground on the water's edge. The only business in Beaver is a natural stopping place for riders, the Beaver Town Inn and General Store
Race Track Road
A favorite back roads route from Berryville to Eureka Springs is Arkansas 221 south to County Road 302, known locally as Rock House Road. 221 is a high energy ride though the hills, down to a swimming hole on the Kings River, called Trigger Gap. Just past the bridge over the river, County Road 302 heads back to Eureka Springs. It's a very narrow, winding road running through lush, forested land. The entire trip from Berryville to Eureka Springs will take less than 30 minutes. This may well be the best short ride in the Ozarks. It's scenic, twisty and tons of fun. Locals call it "Race Track Road".
Ark. 27 - from Marshall to Russellville
OK, I admit it. Until recently, I had only ridden the portion of Ark. 27 from Marshall to Tilly, on Ark. 16. That stretch is VERY nice, but the technically challenging section from Tilly on down to Dover pushes this route way into my Top List of Ozark Roads. Switchbacks, hairpens, and just plain sharp curves makes this one of my "gotta do" roads. It, like 21, 23, and 7, runs up and over the high ridge of the Oarks and is forced in some stretches to make those severe turns. And it, like several of my favorite roads, doesn't rate "scenic dots" from the Arkansas Highway Department.
Mount Magazine & Mount Nebo
These two mountain tops, Magazine and Nebo, are not usually associated with the Ozarks because the Arkansas River slices off the bottom sliver of the Ozarks and they, along with Petit Jean Mountain, stand isolated, between the Petit Jean River Valley and the state's name-sake river. But they do belong to the Ozarks. The approaches to all three, but especially Magazine and Nebo, are spectacular in not only the view from the top but the technical difficulty of the roads up. Ark. 309 runs from Havana to Paris - bet you didn't know you could get there by highway, did you? (LOL in test message lingo). MOUNT MAGAZNE The approach from Paris, to the north, is excellent, but the approach from Havana, 10 miles to the south of the peak, Magazine, makes me want to say "What Dragon?" It's 10 mile hairpen run up is not only every bit as technically difficult as that eastern wonder of nature - the Dragon - but assends over 2400 feet elevation. This road is not for the faint of heart or the brand new rider (without taking extreme care). MOUNT NEBO San Francisco has it's Lombard Street... the Smokies has the Dragon. But Ark. 155 to Mount Nebo packs as much or more into its 2 1/2 mile run up to the state park as either of the other two. And like the other southern Ozarks peaks, has a drop-dead gorgeous view. Remember; as many cars are usually coming down as are going up. USE CAUTION.